Featured Research Projects

SIG's behavioral interventions and community based research address AIDS/HIV, substance use, the opioid epidemic and the overdose crisis, violence against women, reproductive health, criminal justice involvement, and racial, sexual, gender, and health inequities. Browse our current research projects below.  

Adolescent Responses to COVID-19 (ARC)

The Adolescent Responses to COVID-19 (ARC) study aims to examine adolescents' patterns of social connectedness during the COVID-19 pandemic and impacts on adolescent mental health through a mobile app and smartwatch.


Peer-based HIV Self-testing among Women Who Inject or Use Drugs in Kazakhstan, Central Asia

The aim of this study is to assess acceptability, feasibility, preliminary efficacy and cost of a peer-based HIV self-testing intervention to increase consistent HIV testing among women who exchange sex and inject drugs in Kazakhstan.


Advancing Solutions in Policy, Implementation, Research, and Engagement for Refugees

ASPIRE is a multidisciplinary program of activities at Columbia University dedicated to innovative approaches and responses to the Syrian Refugee crisis.

Be Online

Promoting HIV and STI awareness among sexual and gender minorities in Kazakhstan


Improving HIV Service Delivery for People who Inject Drugs in Kazakhstan

Implementation research of a peer driven HIV testing and linkage to HIV treatment intervention that was implemented in 24 NGOs in 4 cities in Kazakhstan.

BV Study

Researching reoccuring bacterial vaginosis (BV) in partnership with the NYC DOHMH


Optimizing Study Design to Test a Community-level Intervention to Reduce Intersectional Stigma and Increase HIV Testing and Prevention among African-American/Black MSM

The major goal of the study is to design and evaluate a community-level anti-intersectional stigma intervention to increase access to and uptake of HIV testing, prevention and treatment in communities of color.

Connect ‘N Unite (CNU)

Couples-based HIV/STI preventive intervention for illicit drug-involved men who have sex with men (MSM) in New York City.



Couples-Based HIV/STI Prevention for African American MSM, Transgender and HIV discordant couples

Dissemination project of couples-based HIV prevention with men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender, and HIV discordant couples.

CONNECT HIP has been identified by the CDC as an effective intervention.

COVID-19 Impact on Substance Use Policies

COVID-19 Impact on Substance Use Policies aims to loosen federal regulations for addiction services delivery during COVID-19 and generate data to inform post-emergency policy-making.

Criminal Justice Initiative

Supporting Children, Families and Communities

The Criminal Justice Initiative (CJI) addresses the societal impacts of the unprecedented numbers of people incarcerated during the past three decades, many of whom also face significant challenges upon returning home. Learn more about continuing research in this area in the T32 program and at The Center for Justice.


Multimedia HIV/STI Intervention for Black Drug-Involved Women on Probation in New York City

Randomized clinical trial testing the efficacy of a multimedia intervention and streamlined HIV testing to prevent HIV and other STIs.

HEALing Communities Study

The HEALing Communities Study (HCS) is a research study aimed to reduce opioid and overdose deaths across New York State by 40% in three years. Launched by NIH, the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM) Initiative is an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis.


Sociostructural drivers of substance use, violence and HIV/STI transmission among high risk females who inject drugs in Tijuana

This study with high risk females who inject drugs in Tijuana, combines detailed information on the physical characteristics of venues (e.g. type, policies, safety) where sex and drug use occur, with data on venue network affiliations (i.e. individuals' network connections to multiple venues), to elucidate the sociostructural drivers of substance use, violence and HIV/STI transmission. 


Crowdsourcing to Reduce HIV Stigma & Increase Adolescent & Young Adult HIV testing

LAtino Sleep & Health Study (LASH)

Identifying Novel Behavioral Targets for Improving Sleep: A Self-Regulation Model

Observational community study aims to examine whether sleep is associated with self-regulation in Latino adults, and if this association is the same across socioeconomic status (SES) groups. Learn about continuing research in this area at Sleep, Mind, and Health.


Evaluating a Microfinance Intervention for High Risk Women in Kazakhstan

NOVA was a structural HIV program (HIV and micro finance) with female sex workers in Kazakhstan.


Reducing Intersectional and HIV Stigma among High Risk Women who use Drugs in Kazakhstan, Central Asia: A Multilevel Stigma Resistance and Enacted Stigma Reduction Intervention for Women and Providers

P3: Sex-Positive | Pleasure | Practices

Estimating the Impact of a Multilevel, Multicomponent Intervention to Increase Uptake of HIV Testing and Biomedical HIV Prevention among African-American/Black Gay, Bisexual and Same-gender Loving Men


Couples STI/HIV Prevention for Drug & Justice- Involved Men in New York City

Randomized clinical trial testing the implementation, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of a couple-based HIV and drug misuse prevention intervention with drug- and justice-involved men.


An effectiveness trial of WINGS and PrEP: a syndemic mHealth intervention to increase PrEP uptake among women impacted by heavy alcohol use and partner violence in the criminal legal system

SMART Couples II

Couple-based antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence intervention for people who inject drugs in Kazakhstan

The aim of this study is to develop a couples-based intervention to improve HIV medication adherence among HIV-positive people who inject drugs, which should increase viral suppression and reduce transmission of HIV.


Increasing Involvement of men who have sex with men in the Continuum of Care in Kazakhstan

Stepped-Wedge trial in three cities in Kazakhstan (Almaty, Astana, and Shymkent) testing the efficacy of peer-driven intervention designed to increase the number of MSM in the HIV continuum of care.

Read more about UNI.


Developing social work field in Uzbekistan

The Uzbekistan Social Work Education for Excellence Project (USWEEP) is a collaboration between UNICEF, the Columbia University School of Social Work (CSSW), the Social Intervention Group (SIG), and the Uzbekistan National Team (NT) to develop social work as part of academic programs, deliver in-service trainings, and adapt evidence-based interventions.

Read more about USWEEP's launch.


Computerized service tool to address partner abuse among women in drug court

Development and pilot randomized clinical trial testing a self-paced computerized multimedia tool on identification of victimization from intimate partner violence (IPV) and on utilization of IPV-related services. The WINGS intervention has been adapted and is available here.

WORTH Transitions

WORTH Transitions is a Multimedia HIV/STI Prevention Intervention App for Justice-Involved Women

Randomized multi-site, implementation trial testing the efficacy of a risk reduction, trauma informed, intervention for drug-involved, incarcerated women being released and linked to health care clinic follow-up.

Other Research

Research Training Programs


2007 – 2023
Funding: NIMH
PI: Nabila El-Bassel, Elwin Wu

HIV Intervention Science Training Program for Underrepresented New Investigators. Mentoring and training program aimed at developing a cadre of underrepresented scientists dedicated to researching HIV-related health disparities & co-occurring mental health disorders.


2014 – 2019
Funding: NIDA
PI: Nabila El-Bassel and Lisa Metsch

HIV Substance Use in the Criminal Justice System. Research training program on HIV, substance use, and criminal justice.

Additional SIG research


2012 – 2013
Funding: OSI
PI: Timothy Hunt

Overdose prevention with IDUs in Central Asia. A dissemination study examining capacity building and adoption of peer administered Naloxone for opioid overdose in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan.


2006 – 2011
Funding: NIDA
PI: Elwin Wu

Service Use, ATI Program Outcomes, and Pro-Social Change. Longitudinal study examining service utilization among men and women attending Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) programs.

Bridges to Better Health and Wellness

2011 – 2016
Funding: NIMH
PI: Leo Cabassa, Ana Stefancic

Evaluating a health care manager program at an outpatient  clinic for Hispanics with serious mental illness. Pilot study testing the feasibility and acceptability of a 12-month health care manager program in improving the physical health of Hispanic adults with serious mental illness who are at risk for cardiovascular disease.


2013 – 2015
Funding: USAID
PI: Nabila El-Bassel, Neil Schluger

Tuberculosis study will examine individual, social, and structural risk factors impacting migrants in four Central Asian countries. In partnership with the Global Health Research Center of Central Asia (GHRCCA).


1996 – 2000
Funding: NIMH
PI: Louisa Gilbert

HIV Prevention with Minority Women and Their Male Sex Partners. HIV/STI prevention intervention for couples.


2004 – 2009
Funding: NIDA
PI: Louisa Gilbert

Couples STI/HIV Prevention for Drug Treatment Clients. HIV/STI prevention intervention among drug-involved couples.

CONNECT with Pride

2006 – 2009
Funding: CDC
PI: Elwin Wu

Novel HIV/STI Preventive Intervention for African American Men Who Have Sex With Men (with at least one partner using methamphetamines). Couples-based HIV/STI preventive intervention for men who have sex with men (MSM).

Cultural adaptation study

2015 – 2016
Funding: Provost
PI: Carmela Alcantara

Cultural Adaptation of an Online Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Insomnia for Hispanic Primary Care Patients. This formative, qualitative study utilizes a cultural adaptation stages model to adapt an interactive online evidence-based program of CBT-I for Spanish speaking Hispanic primary care patients.


2001 – 2008
Funding: NIMH
PI: Louisa Gilbert

HIV/STI Risk Reduction for HIV discordant African American Couples. Couples/ group HIV/STI preventive intervention to reduce sexually risky behaviors.


2011 – 2012
Funding: USAID
PI: Timothy Hunt

Improving Social Work Practice in Central Asia. Qualitative study and curriculum development for 3 Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan.

Marketplace/ Silk Road Study

2007 – 2012
Funding: NIDA
PI: Louisa Gilbert

HIV/STI Risks Among Migrant Market Workers in Kazakhstan. Qualitative and quantitative study examining sexual risk behavior and migration in Central Asia.

Multimedia Connect

2007 – 2012
Funding: NIMH
PI: Nabila El-Bassel, Susan Witte

Using Multimedia Technologies to Disseminate an HIV Prevention Program for Couples. Dissemination study of a traditional vs. multimedia version of a couples-based HIV/STI prevention intervention called “Connect.”

Multimedia WORTH

2009 – 2014
Funding: NIDA
PI: Nabila El-Bassel

WORTH Publications Multimedia HIV/STI Prevention for Drug-Involved Female Offenders. Randomized clinical trial testing the efficacy of a risk reduction intervention for drug-involved, criminal justice-involved women.

Peer-Led Healthy Lifestyle

2014 – 2019
Funding: NIMH
PI:  Leo Cabassa, Ana Stefancic

Evaluating a Peer-Led Healthy Lifestyle Program in Supportive Housing Agencies for Persons with Serious Mental Illness. Hybrid randomized clinical trial studying the implementation and effectiveness of a peer-led intervention designed to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce health disparities in minority populations.


2011 – 2012
PI:  Elwin Wu

Pilot Research Investigation on MSM Estimation. Demographic study designed to estimate the size of the population of men who have sex with men (MSM) in Kazakhstan.

Project Reach

2000 - 2004
Funding: NIMH
PI:  Louisa Gilbert

Partner Abuse and HIV Among Women Receiving Emergency Care. Longitudinal study examining the relationship among drug abuse, HIV, and IPV.

Project START-UP

2013 - 2014
PI:  Timothy Hunt

Quality of life assessment for women living with HIV in Kazakhstan. Survey of women living with HIV in Kazakhstan  to assess quality of life, social and medical service needs, and level of stigma and discrimination.


2008 – 2013
Funding: NIDA
PI:  Louisa Gilbert

Couples HIV/STI Prevention in Kazakhstan. Randomized clinical trial to test the efficacy of an intervention for drug-involved couples in Kazakhstan. Read an update and associated research findings in a publication.


2002 - 2005
Funding: NIDA
PI:  Elwin Wu

Service Use by Men on Methadone Committing Partner Abuse. Cross-sectional study examining service utilization among men on methadone who have perpetrated IPV.

The Men’s Health Project

1999 - 2003
Funding: NIDA
PI:  Louisa Gilbert

HIV Risks and Partner Violence: Men on Methadone. Longitudinal study examining the relationships among drug abuse, HIV, and IPV.

The Women’s Health Project

1997 - 2001
Funding: NIDA
PI:  Louisa Gilbert

Partner Abuse–Minority Women on Methadone. Longitudinal study examining the relationships among drug abuse, HIV, and IPV.


PI:  Nabila El-Bassel, Louisa Gilbert, Elwin Wu

Cross-sectional epidemiological study with Drug-involved Malaysian fisherman. Quantitative study to assess HIV and injecting drug use prevalence and determinants of HIV risks among fishermen in Kuantan, Malaysia.

Peer Specialists Study

PI:  Leo Cabassa, Ana Stefancic

Examining the Added Value of Peer Specialists in Delivering Health Interventions. Qualitative study to identify key factors and mechanisms that underlie the added value of using peer specialists to deliver a healthy lifestyle intervention to people with SMI.